A 53-year-old gay man who was arrested
in a New York City porn shop for prostitution has filed a lawsuit
against the city in federal court, gay weekly Gay City News
Robert Pinter pleaded guilty to
disorderly conduct after he was arrested last October at the Blue
Door Video on First Avenue.
Since then Pinter has learned that over
50 gay and bisexual men were arrested and faced similar charges in
seven Manhattan porn shops since 2004. The findings led him to speak
out against the city's actions.
Pinter says he was approached for sex
by a handsome young Asian man on October 10 in the shop. They agreed
to have oral sex in a parked car. On the way to the car, the man,
who was an undercover police officer, blurted out, “Oh, I want to
pay you $50 to suck your dick.” He was arrested for prostitution
before the pair reached the car.
As part of his sentence, Pinter was
ordered to attend a health class. Some of the other men attending
the class recounted similar experiences. The men soon became angry
and decided to confront the city about the arrests.
After several politicians sympathetic
to the men intervened on their behalf, the city agreed to allow the
men to challenge their earlier convictions. Eventually, most the
charges were either dismissed or reversed, including those against
The city has sued six of the video
shops where gay men had been arrested on questionable prostitution
charges. Citing the arrests, the city called the shops a nuisance.
One shop – Video, Video, Video –
was sued by the city in 2007 after 21 men were arrested. After the
city successfully closed the store, the building was sold for $12.3
million and is now being redeveloped.
In his September 10 filing, Pinter's
attorney wrote: “The actions taken against the Plaintiff in
targeting him, entrapping him, arresting him, taking him into
custody, and otherwise detaining him and prosecuting him were taken
for collateral objectives other than the legitimate objectives
associated with an arrest and prosecution.”